Today, the UK has a announced a major AI sector deal as it looks to establish itself as a global leader in AI with a £1B deal (includes £300M of private sector investment). Some of the exciting announcements include:
By 2025, they are looking to have 1K+ government supported PhD places at any one time
Rolls-Royce has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Alan Turing Institute to codesign and deliver a
programme of collaborative research in data science and AI
Businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to develop ideas for innovative new products and services in any sector of the economy
News + Media: CNBC put the deal in its broader European context, Fortune did a short piece focusing on the global players involved in the deal, and Matt Hancock (DCMS) wrote an inspiring piece in the Times with Greg Clark (BEIS) on the ambitious goals of the deal. In case you missed it, you can watch BBC Breakfast on which I had the pleasure of being on here (starting at ~55:40).
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Amazon is launching a new Echo Dot Kids Edition and a special version of its voice assistant that’s aimed at getting 5-to-12-year-olds used to using Alexa earlier in life. Following criticism that Alexa might be making kids rude, Amazon has added a “positive reinforcement” feature for politeness. If your child says “please” or “thank you,” for example, Alexa will thank them for being polite.
There are other features that will cater to children, too, such as an alarm clock with a SpongeBob Squarepants character waking them up. Parents can use the Alexa app on their phone to see all the questions their kids have asked Alexa, or see all of the music and books they’ve requested and read. The device will also feature enhanced parental controls. Check out the press release here.
San Francisco-based robotics company Marble announced yesterday that it’s just closed a $10 million Series A. The round, which involves the likes of Tencent, Lemnos, Crunchfund and Maven, brings the startup’s total funding to $15 million.
In press material tied to the announcement, Marble’s careful not to get hung up on the whole food delivery label that’s been hung on the company since its early days. Instead, Marble’s now referring to itself as “the last-mile logistics company,” a catchy title that points to its broader ambitions to help meet the growing expectations of e-commerce consumers.
Recently, researchers at Northwestern University used AI to figure out how to make new metal-glass hybrids 200 times faster than they would have doing experiments in the lab. Other scientists are building databases of thousands of compounds so that algorithms can predict which ones combine to form interesting new materials. Others yet are using AI to mine published
papers for “recipes” to make these materials.
In the past, scientists and builders mixed materials together to see what formed. This is how cement, for instance, was discovered. Over time, they learned the physical properties of various compounds, but much of the knowledge was still based on intuition. “If you asked why Japanese watered steel was better at making knives, I don’t think anybody could have told you,” says James Warren, director of the Materials Genome Initiative at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “They just had an artisan’s understanding of the relationship between that internal structure and awesomeness.”
Brands including Ikea, RBS, Just Eat and Age UK will be discussing how they are using AI and machine learning to bring their marketing strategies to life at their second Supercharged conference in May.
The full day event features brands that are using emerging technology to better serve customers. It will also feature sessions discussing the ethics of AI and how it can help brands tackle thorny issues such as brand safety.
Emma Hart (Edinburgh Napier University) and Barry Gardiner (INRA) write about how researchers use various modelling techniques to help forest managers predict which trees are at risk of damage, but none are
sufficiently accurate. AI has the potential to make a big difference, however. They have built a system that they believe points the way towards protecting the forestry industry more effectively in future.
The new approach provides new insights to forestry managers, for example highlighting the factors that most influence susceptibility to damage – such as tree density – which in turn helps them to develop better forest management plans for the future. And the models work sufficiently fast that the impact of these management plans can be mapped in real time, which is extremely helpful for forest planning and engaging with stakeholders.
An American IVF service is evaluating artificial intelligence technology to determine if it may help improve pregnancy outcomes for its patients. Ovation Fertility is working with Australian AI company Life Whisperer on a retrospective study to assess whether artificial intelligence could have identified embryos that would have led to a successful pregnancy.
“Our skilled embryologists excel at visually grading embryos for transfer, and we’re interested in evaluating AI’s potential as a supplemental decision support tool for validating our embryologists’ findings on which embryos might be the most likely to result in pregnancy,” Tex VerMilyea, Ovation Fertility’s Austin laboratory and operations director said.